Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Look to Like, If Looking Liking Move

I've been wanting to draw bloggy attention to Gareth Hinds' beautiful graphic novel adaptation of Romeo and Juliet for ages now. First I was hoping to do it before I left for London/Iceland, but trip preparation got in the way. Then I was hoping to do it upon my return, but reentry kind of knocked me on my ass; then I was hoping to do it in time for NCTE, but work swept me into a vortex, so, hello there, *waves from the vortex*, I failed at that, too. Sigh. But here I finally go!

We all know the story, but I've never seen it told like this before. Gareth brings Verona of the Montagues and Capulets alive; his illustrated adaptation breathes wonderful new life into dialog I'd heard so many times that I believe I'd stopped listening to it. Look at this beautiful cover:

You guys, it has a sword-hilt ampersand.

Over at Gareth's website, he shares a whole lot of the book online, in case you want to see more right away. I really recommend this book. If you're like me, you'll sit down thinking that you're just going to read a few pages, then you'll stay in your chair until you've examined every picture and read the entire thing.

This strikes me as an opportunity to tell a little story about Gareth (who is a friend) and Bitterblue, actually. Sometime after Bitterblue's  release, Gareth dropped me a line. "I have a little something for you," he said. "What's your mailing address?" Intrigued, I gave him my mailing address, then promptly forgot all about it. Until the mail arrived one day and I found a large envelope from Gareth that was well-packed and quite stiff.

Have you, by chance, ever received a large, well-packed, stiff envelope in the mail from a friend who is an artist?

Overcome with excitement, I ran inside and opened the envelope. Those of you who've read Bitterblue, do you remember that the sculptor Bellamew makes a sculpture of her own daughter, Hava, transforming into a bird? Well, here is Gareth's idea of "a little something":

This beautiful drawing now hangs in a position of honor above the bookcase in my office. I love it completely.


HOWEVER, DON'T THINK FOR A MINUTE THAT THIS HEARTWARMING PERSONAL STORY IS THE REASON I LIKE ROMEO AND JULIET! You should all look at this book, because it's great, and you may be moved to like it very much indeed. (That was a clever reference to my subject line (which is a line from Romeo and Juliet), in case you missed it.) :o)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Morning Randutiae

Some randutiae is more random than others, and the more recently I've come home from a big trip, the more random it's likely to be :). My attentions and passions are spinning around in all different directions as I settle back into life at home.
  • It's recently come to my attention that the default on Apple computers is for the firewall to be off. (Apple, why?) Also, that a lot of Mac users aren't aware of this. Mac users who haven't checked recently: go to System Preferences (the little silver rectangle with gears in your dock), click on Security & Privacy, and make sure your firewall is turned on. *shakes fist at Apple*
  • I fully expected that when I got back from Iceland, leaf season would be over here. How happy I am to be wrong; we are having a very long leaf season this November, and the colors are still stunning. Yay!
  • I've been enjoying the BBC/PBS production of The Paradise, supposedly based on Émile Zola's book Au Bonheur des Dames, which I read in June and blogged about. But it must be said for the record that there is practically NOTHING in the TV miniseries that remains faithful to the book. Even putting aside that the TV series doesn't take place in Paris or even France, the characters and plots are unrecognizable. Mr. Selfridge, weirdly, was a closer match to Zola's book.
  • In addition to listening to Svavar Knútur obsessively, I've been listening to Eivør, who was born in the Faroe Islands and sings in Faroese, Icelandic, and English. On her album Eivør Live, there's a cover of "Summertime" and another of "Nature Boy" that knock me out of my seat. I've taken to sitting on the floor. Then there are tracks like "Mín Móðir" and "Nu Brennur Tú Í Mær" of which I understand not a word, but I listen to them over and over anyway… It's hard to believe she's producing that gorgeous voice live! Many thanks to the proprietor of a cool little store called Flóra in Akureyri, who introduced me to both Knútur and Eivør. I can't find any tracks to share from Eivør Live (though you can listen to clips on her website), but here's a video of her performing "Rain" from her most recent album, Room. (As always, if you're getting my posts as emails and can't see the video, go to my Blog Actual!)
Rain (duo) from Eivor on Vimeo.

Monday, November 18, 2013



is the southern tip of Greenland.


And this...

and this...

and especially this...

is how I know I'm home. :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

God Bless Our Mistakes

One of the things I appreciate most about my parents is that they've let me make my own decisions, even if it means they've had to stand back and watch me make mistakes. Being allowed to mess up is fundamentally freeing. Knowing that failure is always an option -- being suspicious about the assumed definitions of words like "success" and "failure" -- is, too. I suspect that this kind of parental noninterference is very difficult :). But the consequence is that I'm left understanding that my life is mine.

I've been thinking about this tonight as I listen to Icelandic music. This is Svavar Knútur, from Iceland's western fjords, singing a song called "Humble Hymn."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Iceland: Akureyri in November

Akureyri is my final destination in Iceland. I'm here for a few days, and I confess that my hours have been consumed by writing – which means less picture taking. But I have taken a few snapshots of this beautiful northern town! Some taken from my own windows – I've got some wonderful writing views.

This strikes me as a very sensible spot given the circumstances.

Akureyri's impressive (but closed to tourists in November) church.

A city on the water.

Possibly Iceland's favorite color? :o)

Look closely, or you'll miss the little wheels beside the big wheels...

I'm definitely not accustomed to sunrise this late.
(BTW, if the numbers puzzle you, those temps are in Fahrenheit.)

Sunrise view from my windows while writing.

Another view from my windows – the 11 o'clock sun, rising over misting water.
(Sorry about the glare! I took it through the window!)

Early sunset.

4 PM moon.

Writing view on a snowy day.

This may be my last post of pictures from Iceland, depending on how the next few days go. I had so much fun posting them, and I hope you've enjoyed them! I thought to myself, on one of my driving days, that now that I've been here, I hardly need to go anywhere else. Of course that's not true, but Iceland inspires those kind of feelings. I promise I'll come back.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Iceland: The Bus to Akureyri

I took the bus from Egilsstaðir to Akureyri (here's the route). For most of the journey, I was the only person on the bus who wasn't Icelandic, and I took so many pictures that they must've thought I was barmy. Especially when I started to cry. It was so beautiful, I couldn't help myself.

I took about 500 pictures! (Through the bus windows, so forgive any blurriness or weird splotches.) I've narrowed it down to 40ish, still an awful lot, so this post will contain a jump break. A warning that if you'd rather avoid pictures of snowy roads, this post does include one view through the front window of the bus that shows the road we were traveling on. (It is picture #4.) How happy I was to be in the hands of our imperturbable bus driver.

For some time after we set out, this was the view.

We began to see some shapes… water…

Ridges… snowbanks.

Dramatic stuff ahead.

Our shadow kept us company!

Click the link below for the rest!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Iceland: Driving Through the East Fjords to Egilsstaðir

I drove from Jökulsárlón to Egilsstaðir, with stops in Höfn (where I got gas) and Djúpivogur (where I had lunch). Here's the route. This drive, through the East Fjords, was the most dramatic yet. I love driving on Icelandic roads! There's always either a gorgeous vista or a challenge (steep drops with no guard rail, sheep in the road, slow cars that you pass by crossing into the oncoming lane) or both, so it's never boring.

Sadly, the most beautiful things I saw were things I couldn't get pictures of, because I was driving. A herd of reindeer. After a (very!) long tunnel, an opening into a fjord at twilight with the water shining silver and the sparkling lights of a town. Also, the fjords – they're just too big and too grand for my iPhone (especially with the dreadful iOS update, have I mentioned the dreadful iOS update?).

Now that I'm in the northeast, I find the roads to be snowy and icy. They're drivable, but I don't feel like dealing with it, so here in Egilsstaðir, I'll turn in my wheels. But I do still intend to continue to Akureyri by bus, so there will be more pictures. It says in all the guidebooks that it's best to be a flexible traveler in Iceland when possible; I'm definitely finding that to be true. I'm also finding the Icelanders to be enormously helpful and kind, no matter what kind of help I need.

In case you're curious about current road conditions in Iceland, here's a link to the Vegagerðin website. Click on any section of the country for more detail on current conditions. There's also this Icelandic road conditions map; hover your mouse over one of the numbers and it will give you options to see pictures of the road surface, updated every few minutes. And as long as I'm sharing those, here's the Icelandic weather website. Click on any of the maps for a bigger view, and notice the little notch you can move below to see the forecast for the coming days.

 These sheep kept looking at me,

 then looking at their buddy,

 who kept looking at me,

 then looking back at them. That was the conversation while I was around.
Later I was told they were probably a mother and two babies.
Looking to her to say "Are we okay?" while she looked back to say "Are you okay? I'm here."

 They were the best,

 as were the landscapes around them.

 The harbor at Djúpivogur.

 Another view.

 Snowy outlook en route.

The church in Egilsstaðir.
After I took this picture, I swam in the geothermally-heated outdoor pool –
along with some school kids, whose teacher watched them from the side wearing a snowsuit.

On the way home, I saw these kids playing at recess...

minded by another teacher in a snowsuit.

 Around 4:30 PM as the sun gets low…

 looking out over Egilsstaðir, where everything turns violet.